Rewriting a continent: Afreximbank at 30

Rewriting a continent: Afreximbank at 30

Obi Tabansi Onyeaso

Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank, is winning hearts and capital for a new vision of Africa that is win-win for all.  

Almost missed it

Amidst our current national obsession with the musical chairs of appointments and the next major policy pronouncement by President Bola Tinubu, the Nigerian media paid scant attention to a major gathering of Africa’s business leaders in Ghana three weeks ago.

With few exceptions, Nigerian media titles confined themselves to regurgitating a press release distributed by APO, a media consultancy.

I am talking of the 30th Annual General Meetings of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), which held in Accra from June 18-21.

The 4-day meeting was significant because, in the last ten years, Afreximbank has taken pole position in the race to rewrite the African narrative.  

In the beginning was Ghana

The choice of Ghana for this milestone anniversary celebration was not random. It was a homecoming of sorts.

By virtue of its first president, Kwame Nkrumah’s fanatical advocacy for political union among newly independent African states in the 1960s, the country earned its place as the engine room of Pan Africanism.

As a movement, African pride, social resilience and global competitiveness have always been at the heart of Pan Africanism.

Therefore, a well-rounded review of Afreximbank must incorporate the historical context of its emergence.

Ghana under Nkrumah was the spear’s tip of a creed whose preachers included individuals as diverse as Henry Sylvester Williams, a Trinidadian activist, Marcus Garvey, Jamaican-born pioneer of the Back to Africa Movement, WEB Du Bois, a Harvard University-trained sociologist, historian, and civil rights activist, George Padmore, Trinidadian writer and kindred ideologue to Nkrumah, Frantz Fanon, a Martiniquais political philosopher and Walter Rodney, a Guyanese political activist.

On the rolls of honour were also names like Peter Abrahams, a South African writer, Patrice Lumumba, first prime minister of Congo-Kinshasa, Jomo Kenyatta, first president of Kenya, Sékou Touré, first president of Guinée-Conakry, and Julius Nyerere, first president of Tanzania.

Whatever the differences in tactics among them, they shared a common agreement.

They understood that African independence would remain a mirage so long as countries kept clinging to artificial national borders with small national markets, based their economies on globally inconsequential currencies, and relied on foreign solutions to African problems.

Nkrumah was the most persuasive campaigner of these views.

On the eve of the formation of the Organisation for African Unity (OAU) in Addis Ababa on 25 May 1963, he had this to say:

“We have been too busy nursing our separate states to understand fully the basic need of our union, rooted in common purpose, common planning and common endeavour. A union that ignores these fundamental necessities will be but a sham. It is only by uniting our productive capacity and the resultant production that we can amass capital… If we do not approach the problems in Africa with a common front and a common purpose, we shall be haggling and wrangling among ourselves until we are colonized again and become the tools of a far greater colonialism than we suffered hitherto.”

The prophetic words of Osagyefo Nkrumah ring even truer today.

Foundational ideas

A well-rounded review of Afreximbank must incorporate the historical context of its emergence.

First and foremost, Afreximbank is a child of necessity.

The multilateral institution was birthed from a realization that Africa was overexposed to the capricious twists of global demand and supply, lacked the resources to exploit opportunities in its backyard, and was over-dependent on a one-size-fits-all operating manual of international commerce ill-suited for its realities.

A study of the financial institution’s history is rewarding because of the insights to be gained about African countries’ struggle for dignity and self-esteem in the comity of nations.

Although it saw the light of day a full three decades after the independence hurrahs of the early sixties, Afreximbank is unquestionably part and parcel of an unbroken historical chain of aspirations coherently expressed by the founding fathers of African nationalism. 

Inasmuch as they are as desirous of Africa’s economic emancipation as those who fought against colonialism, bankers at Afreximbank have, wisely, taken a different route.

The leadership of Afreximbank have always understood that capitalism is not a yoke to be cast off. Rather, it is a system to be evolved.

Like any other system, countries and regions must devise dynamic ways to evolve the terms of their integration into the global capitalist order.

These can be on the bases of investment opportunities, market size, human capital, natural resources, state of technology, government policies, shifts in global systems of power or any combination of the above.

Neither the promoters of Afreximbank in the mid-eighties nor the Presidents who have held sway at its Cairo head office ever sought to overthrow the global capitalist system.

In fact, a cursory glance of their résumés would show how out of character populist sloganeering would be in the milieu they operate in.

Rather they do the best they can to lend Afreximbank’s technical, financial, and institutional support in a way that gives African economies a fighting chance for survival.

A pragmatic African in the driving seat

Professor Benedict Oramah, the current President of the financial institution, has deftly sidestepped ideological and geopolitical entanglements to deliver pragmatic solutions to the pressing issues of intra-African trade and payments.

He balances passion for an African renaissance with a rigorous management style that has seen Afreximbank’s dividends increase fourfold between 2015 and 2021, while growing its assets to over $32 billion.

Jeune Afrique, a weekly French magazine, described him in Gaullist terms as “the custodian of a certain idea of Africa.”

Acknowledging Nkrumah’s forerunner role in his inaugural address, Oramah called him “the plank on which we stand.”

His embrace of CARICOM (Caribbean Community) of which eleven members are now signatories to a Partnership Agreement with Afreximbank is yet another historical reminder that Pan-Africanism always had one leg in Africa and the other in the Diaspora.

Oramah, who holds a doctorate in Agricultural Economics, is an astute diplomat.

He is also a history buff. In fact, he can be mistaken for a tenured university don. This may yet be his second career after his tenure ends.

He admits to turning to historical figures and events to draw lessons on how to navigate tight situations.

“History is a source of courage. If you study history, there can be no challenge that is too great for you because you will find that others have taken on even more perilous challenges than you are faced with,” he once told a journalist.”

Freedom fighters in the C-Suite

A perusal of Oramah’s speech in Accra yields a harvest of comparisons and continuities.

Take for example, his description of the business and government leaders gathered in the hall as “torchbearers steering Africa’s economic struggle.”

By casting them in the light of freedom fighters he readily admits that the new wars of liberation are not being waged with AK-47s, Kalashnikovs, and military fatigues like the Mau MauZimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO), Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde (PAIGC), Frente da Libertação de Moçambique (FRELIMO) of Mozambique, and Movimento Popular da Libertação de Angola (MPLA) did decades ago.  

He has balanced his passion for an African renaissance with a rigorous management style that has seen Afreximbank’s dividends increase fourfold between 2015 and 2021, while growing its assets to over $32 billion.

Accra was, therefore, a fitting venue to do what the French call “rendu compte” about Afreximbank’s thirty-year parcours.

The theme of the gathering, “Delivering the Vision, Building Prosperity for Africans” could not have been more apt.

Taking attendance

This year, the organiser surpassed itself in the line-up of speakers assembled.

They included President Akufo-Addo of Ghana, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley of Barbados, Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada of Sao Tome & Principe, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria, Dr. Ernest Yedu Addison, Governor, Bank of Ghana, Dr. Donald Kaberuka, former President of the African Development Bank, Wamkele Mene, Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, Antonio Pedro, Acting Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman, Econet Global and Cassava Technologies.

In the foyer of the Accra International Conference Centre, attendees could also hobnob with Aliko Dangote, Group President/Chief Executive of Dangote Group, Arnold Ekpe, former Group CEO, Ecobank Group, and Chairman, the Business Council of Africa and Baobab, Dr. Vera Songwe, Board Chair, Liquidity and Sustainability Facility, a repo facility for emerging countries, Ahmed El Sewedy, President and CEO, Elsewedy Electric of Egypt, Oussama Kaissi, CEO, Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit, Florie Liser, President and CEO, Corporate Council on Africa, Kayode Pitan, CEO, Bank of Industry of Nigeria, Hani S. Sonbol, CEO, International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation; Simon Tiemtore, Chairman and CEO, Lilium Capital, and Group Chairman, Vista Bank Group, Samaila Zubairu, President, Africa Finance Corporation, Professor Wole Soyinka, Playwright and Essayist, Nobel Laureate in Literature, Mr. Alain Tchibozo, Chief Economist, West African Development Bank (BOAD), Rosa Whitaker Duncan-Williams, President & CEO of The Whitaker Group, and Mo Abudu, CEO, EbonyLife Group

Haunted by the market’s mood swings

Afreximbank was founded in 1993 with a vision to create a financial institution that would serve as a buffer from swings in demand and supply of global trade that reinforced the vulnerability of African countries, as well as to foster intra-African trade.

The story begins with Dr. Babacar Ndiaye, a visionary mandarin of Senegalais-Guinean birth.

Babacar joined the African Development Bank (AfDB) in 1965, part of the first cohort of African professionals recruited at the fledgling multilateral institution.

He witnessed first-hand the disappointments and disasters African countries went through beginning with the high hopes of the sixties to the farcical tragedies of the seventies.

Ambitious development projects launched during the go-go years of blooming commodity prices were abandoned as soon as global demand withered.

The social instability produced by these swings reinforced the instability cycle that bedeviled Africa.

By the time he was elected the 5th president of the African Development Bank (1985-95) he had a plan in hand.

With foresight, Ndiaye grasped the necessity to set up an institutional infrastructure for Africa’s economic resilience through international trade. He had seen the devastation suffered by those lumped in the category ‘Third World countries’ after the Latin American debt crisis of the early eighties.

Fading interest in Africa by Western banks had created a financing gap for export-oriented companies in the region.

Debt, or more correctly, the cost of debt made or broke nations. This was why he did everything possible to achieve a Triple A rating for AfDB during his tenure.

Persistence pays

Against the skeptical reception of some board members at AfDB, Ndiaye pushed hard for approval to start an Export-Import Bank with an African mandate.

His persistence yielded fruit at the AfDB’s June 1987 annual meeting in Cairo.

There the board approved the creation of a facility for “the financing of African trade in the most economical manner”.

Uhuru was still some distance away. There were many more battles to be fought along the way, plus a few setbacks. But this victory, the first of several, was symbolic. 

On different occasions, allies rose up to save the day.

Some of the names etched in gold are Mr. Pierre-Claver Damiba, former Regional Director for Africa at the UNDP who gave funding for a feasibility study to create Afreximbank. Others were Mr. Ondo-Ndong of Gabon, Mr. Bakary Kamara, former Managing Director at AfricaRe, Dr. Clark of Botswana who lent unflinching support to Ndiaye on the AfDB board.

Corporate histories of Afreximbank will not fail to mention Mr. M. AbdelAziz, former Chairman of National Bank of Egypt, who threw a challenge to Ndiaye to raise the proposed authorized capital of the Afreximbank from US$100 million to US$500 million, Mr. M. K. Ndiaye who designed the first logo of the Bank and prepared the documentation for the road-show to promote the Bank, as well as Mr. Samir Kurayem, a former Executive Director of AfDB from Egypt, who went all the way to get the government of President Hosni Mubarak to give its full backing to the take-off of Afreximbank.

For these reasons, Ndiaye commented at the bank’s first AGM in 1993 that “Afreximbank is very much a triumph for the African imagination, intellect and spirit.”

Students of history would immediately recognize his inspiration from Kwame Nkrumah’s midnight speech delivered on Ghana’s independence from Britain:

“This new Africa is ready to fight his own battles and show that after all the black man is capable of managing his own affairs. We are going to demonstrate to the world, to the other nations, that we are prepared to lay our foundation – our own African personality.”

In “From Vision to Reality: Reflections on the African Export-Import Bank”, Ndiaye revealed the reason why he nominated Cairo as the capital for the new financial institution.

In May 1993, he visited Cape Town as a guest of the South African government and African National Congress (ANC) in the lead up to that country’s first multiracial elections.

While touring the city, he saw the Rhodes Memorial, a bronze bust statue of Cecil Rhodes, the infamous diamond magnate, at Devil’s Peak.

Looking at the brooding figure he became intrigued by Rhodes’ vision for a transportation network that would link Cape Town to Cairo.

There and then, he got an inspiration for the head office of the transnational bank to be sited in Cairo, a city that incarnated Africa’s famed history as a bastion of ancient civilisation.

A year before he stepped down, Ndiaye warned of the choice facing Africa. In an op-ed titled “African Democracy Depends on Success of Economic Union”, which appeared in the July 23, 1994 edition of The Atlanta Voice, he did not mince his words to African leaders.

“For Africa, in fact, there is little choice. The world is rapidly forming regional economic blocs. To enter this market, the nations of Africa must come together economically. Otherwise, they will not escape marginalization in today’s complex international economy.”

The high regard he was held in was revealed when an African replacement was sought for Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, the Peruvian diplomat whose tenure as Secretary-General of the United Nations (1982-1991) was drawing to an end.

Statesmen from around the world, including Nigeria’s General Ibrahim Babangida and George Baker, the US Secretary of State, lobbied for him to be selected.

Not wishing to snip the relationship with the development sage after his retirement, his successor, the Moroccan Omar Kabbaj and the board of AfDB appointed him as President Emeritus.

The vision carriers

Enjoying uncommon stability at its helm, Afreximbank has had only 3 presidents, effectively the chief executive, since its founding.

Christopher C. Edordu (1993-2003), its first President, set up the operating structures, professional culture and values that ensured Afreximbank was built on the right foundations.

Before his appointment, he had served as the CEO of the Nigerian Export-Import Bank.

In “Ten Years of African Trade Finance: The Story of Afreximbank”, possibly the most concise history of the bank’s early days he nailed the brutal bondage of self-perpetrating ties between African countries and their colonial Metropoles.

“Another remarkable structural factor in Africa’s trade during the period in review was the concentration of trade in OECD economies. Thus, intra-African trade was about 5% of total trade during the period. This problem derived from Africa’s colonial history which created colonial trading ties that were difficult to break. In addition, the provision of trade financing facilities by industrialized countries to finance imports from their manufacturers worsened this problem by creating a preference for industrialized country exports even where equivalent goods were available at competitive prices in neighbouring countries. This problem, as a matter of fact, prevented a competitive search for goods.”

In 1996, Dr. George Elombie, now the Executive Vice President responsible for Corporate Governance and Legal Services, was headhunted from the University of Hull in England to join the bank. He remembers the open-door, almost Platonic culture that Edordu fostered among its staff members.

“You could, as a junior member of staff, call the president at 2 a.m. and tell him you disagreed with something he had said at the credit committee meeting and he would wake up and have a proper conversation with you about it. And if you couldn’t come to an agreement, he would invite you to come to his office later, where there may be a couple more people to discuss the issue and resolve it one way or the other.”

One of Edordu’s first hires is the current President, Professor Benedict Oramah.

His infectious optimism about what Afreximbank would do for the continent convinced Oramah, to leave his cushy job at the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), to join him on a journey to the unknown.

When he came on board, the bank did not have its own office yet. Oramah and five others made do with at Cairo’s Intercontinental Hotel for months before moving to a temporary office at the World Trade Centre.

Edordu recalled that in the beginning not many gave the idea of an export-import bank for Africa much of a chance. When one executive director of AfDB was apprised of plans to set up the institution he sent a memo to President Ndiaye.

He wrote in unambiguous terms that ‘I am not in a position to support (not even in principle) participation … in such a Bank.’

Two years later, at its first annual general meeting, a leading shareholder suggested that ‘The Board should be elected for one year, instead of the customary three, because no one is sure about what may happen to the Bank.’

Looking back at Afreximbank’s birth pangs, Edordu observed that the establishment of Afreximbank “was certainly not achieved on a platter of gold.  It required persistence, perseverance, determination, hard work, and strong conviction.”  

His successor, Jean-Louis Ekra (2005-15), an Ivorien, consolidated on the achievements of Edordu. He also led the bank into a rapid growth phase, and put institutional ties with China on a stronger footing.

His prudent leadership is attested to by the fact that the Bank received an investment grade credit rating from Fitch, Moody’s and Standard&Poor’s, the major international rating agencies, during his tenure.

To place this in context, it represents a compounded annual rate of growth of more than 30 percent.

A highlight of Ekra’s tenure was the launch of the Africa Cocoa Initiative (AFRICOIN) in 2012.

This end-to-end solution expanded the local processing of cocoa in Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Ghana from 17 percent of production to over 35 percent. Together, the three countries produce 70 percent of the world’s supply of cocoa beans.

When the global financial crisis came, Ekra rallied the institution and its partners to navigate the sand banks of uncertainty to safety.

Oramah’s panoramic view

By the time Oramah took the helm in 2015, Afreximbank was ready to retool its response mechanisms for Africa’s changing needs.

Top on his to-do list was the abysmal state of intra-African trade.

Last year, only 15 per cent of official African exports went to other African countries. This pales in significance with the 52 per cent in intra-Asian trade and 73 per cent among European nations in the same year.

Equally alarming is that the needle of Africa’s share of global trade has barely moved since Afreximbank was founded. It stood at 2 per cent in 1994. In 2023, it stands at 3 per cent.

Speaking in a February 2023 media parley, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director General of the World Trade Organisation rejected this statistic as “too little”. “We need to do something to double and triple that,” she urged African business leaders.

In his acceptance speech, Oramah gave strong hints on his priorities.

“We want an Africa where the foundations of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement are laid expeditiously so that the 84,000 kilometres of borders that have divided us for ages can begin to come down. This will drive the industrialisation of Africa, support the emergence of regional value chains, turn Africa’s creative and cultural assets into engines of growth, grow jobs for the continent’s youth, convey respect to Africans wherever they may be and better prepare the continent to compete more effectively in the global markets.”

He has risen to the task.

Having spent 8 years at the helm, two initiatives will probably define his presidency.

These are the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS).

Afreximbank has emerged as one of the leading, and by far, the most visible financial institution backing AfCFTA.

By 2026, it expects its financing of intra-African trade to cross the $40 billion mark. In the 5 years to 2021, it stood at $20 billion.

Among the arguments put forward by proponents of AfCFTA are that WTO is consigned to play a declining role in multilateral trade negotiations, while regional trade agreements are on the ascendant.

Since trade without payments is a non-starter, Afreximbank came up with PAPSS a seamless cross-border payment and settlement system that enables the efficient flow of money securely across African borders, minimizing risk and contributing to financial integration across the regions.

During his address in Accra, Oramah spoke of the relatable utility of PAPSS.

“It is now possible for a Gambian to buy Nigerian urea fertilisers using Gambian Dalasi, a young Ghanaian to pay for holiday in Seychelles in Ghanaian Cedi, and for a small farmer in rural Zambia to stream her favourite Nollywood movie paying in Zambian Kwacha.”

Sometimes, bringing lofty initiatives like PAPSS down to the What’s In It For Me (WIFIM) level for the common man and SME owner can make all the difference in mass adoption.

Oramah is confident that PAPSS is on track to reduce recurrent hard currency liquidity shortages across Africa which have undermined the financing of intra-African trade.

When fully adopted, it will also cut transaction costs in intraregional trade, with potential reductions in other direct and transaction costs in excess of $5 billion annually. 

The professor of International Trade and Finance has applied a systems-thinking approach to the design of a financial architecture that is purpose-built for intra-African trade.

At the last count, it had on onboarded about 500 of the continent’s 600 regulated commercial banks into its Afreximbank Trade Finance Facility (AFTRAF) placing it in the vortex of the most extensive bank messaging network on the continent.

The plan is to provide them with Trade Credit Confirmation lines of up to $8 billion.

Trade plus plus

That is not all.

Afreximbank has shown that it can go further.

In March 2020, at the height of the COVID pandemic, it created a $3 billion Pandemic Trade Impact Mitigation Facility to help African countries avoid trade payment defaults, support foreign exchange reserves and assist commodities exporters struggling with declining revenues.

A year later, it approved $2 billion for the purchase of 220 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African countries.

Oramah is anything if not indefatigable. The twenty-one years he spent climbing the ladder at Afreximbank prepared him well to be the master juggler he’s proving to be.

But like every juggler knows, there are distractions in the circus. In Afreximbank’s case, the world is passing through a phase of heightened volatility.

According to “African Trade Report 2023: Export Manufacturing and Regional Value Chains in Africa under a New World Order”, an Afreximbank publication, released in June:

“The world economy has witnessed a sharp synchronised global deceleration on account of a confluence of overlapping global crises including the lingering effects of COVID-19, particularly in China, where the country’s ‘Zero COVID’ policy led to a sharp reduction in output; heightening geopolitical tensions stoked by the Ukraine crisis; increasing risk of fragmentation exacerbated by geopolitical tensions; and the persistence of trade wars among others.”

Not giving excuses, Afreximbank has backed almost every major project in the continent in the last decade.

In the parlance of the day, its motto could well be #wemove.

Financing the future

Major projects backed include the Dangote Refinery in Nigeria and Rufiji Dam and Hydropower Plant in Tanzania.

When completed, the 650,000 bpd-capacity Dangote refinery will create over 135,000 permanent jobs, contribute 12,000MW to the national grid, save $30 billion in FX requirements and provide $10 billion in export earnings per annum.

In East Africa, the 2,100MW Rufiji Dam will more than double the Tanzania’s power generation capacity.

Several other projects from food security, drug access, infrastructure and human capital development have received the backing of Afreximbank.

Without jettisoning its legacy prudential lending standards, Afreximbank is more confident taking on more risk.

The fact is that for it to grow, the financial institution needs to deploy its balance sheet.

Ekra shared his regret at how the bank missed the boat on Nigeria’s GSM revolution.

In the late 1990s, when Afreximbank heard that the federal government planned to auction three GSM licenses, it dismissed the possibility of every Nigerian owning a mobile phone. It later got a foot into the room but only barely.

The moral of the story is that sometimes being too risk-averse comes with its own risks.

On his part, Oramah recalled a comment made by a Chinese board member during a presentation of the Afreximbank’s five-year strategy a few ago.

After listening to a walk-through of the slides, the director said “You talk about the opportunities on this continent, and this is the growth that you are aiming at? It is too timid.”

The message was clear. Put your money where your mouth is.

Critical voices

Not a few critics point accusing fingers at Afreximbank. They allege that it is deviating from its founding mandate.

To them Oramah’s answer is simple but profound.

“When we are deciding on our initiatives, the question we ask is, ‘to what end?’ The answer to that question may even lead you away from trade but it is those things that will have the most impact.”

A second group of critics, call them “AfCFTA-pessimists”, dismiss the free trade area as ill-timed and misguided in its assumptions.

Ndongo Samba Sylla, a development economist, has called it “suicide for African countries” having “no economic justification at this historical juncture.”

His argument is that the promoters of AfCFTA are putting “the cart (free trade) before the horse (industrialisation, increased production capacity, pan-African road, rail, air, sea, and computer infrastructure development).” The real beneficiaries of the free trade area, if it does get off the ground, will be “international capital more than the African countries, which often — as in the case of the Franc Zone countries – have no control over their monetary and exchange rate policies.”

Views like Sylla’s hold some water but walk away from presenting a practical alternative.

In the circumstances, the implementation of a radical idea like AfCFTA may be Africa’s best chance for the foreseeable future.

Vision 2053

In total, Afreximbank has disbursed over $100 billion since it was founded.

But this figure pales in significance to the continent’s needs.

According to Afreximbank’s President:

For a continent with a GDP estimated at $3.1 trillion, the combined total assets of key development institutions on the continent are in the range of $80-100bn. This is small once you compare us to our peers such as the BDNES, the Brazilian Development Bank which at December 2021 had assets of $141 billion, let alone the China Development Bank or the China Exim Bank that was established at the same time as Afreximbank.”

From an extremely conservative stance during the Edordu years, it has grown more comfortable with risk in the succeeding decades.

It took Afreximbank 30 years to reach $30 billion in total assets and guarantees.

Oramah has publicly expressed his confidence that Afreximbank will double this figure to $60 billion in the next 6 years.

Professor Ashis Nandy, an Indian social critic of colonialism and of colonized mentalities, was not far from the truth when he postulated that history, stripped of its pretensions of objectivity is nothing more than a past of power and inequalities.

For centuries, the canon of Africa’s history has been about a landmass of basket cases.

The Atlantic Slave Trade, wars, famine, pestilence, coups d’état, authoritarian rule, aid dependency, human trafficking, and the northwards migration of its human capital in recent years.

In its own way, Afreximbank is making an effort to rewrite this litany of tragedies into one that restores agency to the continent’s 1.4 billion people.

No one, least of all Oramah, has any illusions that it is an easy task. At the end of the day, what matters is that pen is already on paper.

The draft outline of a new Africa is in the making.

Afreximbank has shown that it has the executive fervour and institutional capacity to take on the task.

The next 30 years promises to be very interesting.

Onyeaso, is the managing director of Customs Street Advisors, a strategic communications consultancy, based in Lagos, Nigeria. He can be reached at

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